7.45pm WATCH: Tony Blair: "I still believe it was right to remove Saddam"

5.30pm ToryDiary: Osborne reheats one of the capital ideas from his Autumn Statement

4pm John Glen MP on Comment: Universities must start taking practical steps towards self-sufficiency

3.15pm Greg Clark MP writes the Weekly Letter from a Treasury Minister: National growth requires local growth – that's why we're backing Lord Heseltine's plans

2.30pm WATCH: Boris admits that he'd like to be Prime Minister (but downplays the idea of it ever happening)

Budget2pm A trio of pre-Budget posts on Comment:

12.15 LeftWatch: Labour MP wonders out loud, why are "parasitical elements of press" allowed in Parliament?

10.30am A pair of Comment pieces about Cyprus:

MFThe Budget:

Press regulation:

Also on Comment, Harry Benson explains how to make Sure Start achieve what it was meant to do

Continuing our series of articles from our Victory 2015 Conference, Tom Mludzinski asks whether women and the Conservative Party have a deteriorating relationship

Local Government: Councils should use their power to cut Business Rates for small shops

The Deep End: Say goodbye to the world wide web, say hello to the worldstream

The party leaders get their Royal Charter, but will the press comply?

Independent"Four newspaper groups, the Daily Mail Group, News International, Northern and Shell, publishers of the Express, and the Telegraph Media Group, as well as the Newspaper Society and the Professional Publishers Association, said they had not been consulted over the final package and there were ‘deeply contentious issues’ to consider." – Daily Mail 

"Media organisations should have the courage to stand aside from the new industry regulator which would act as a 'Ministry of Truth', [Peter Lilley] said tonight." – The Times (£)

  • "Another backbencher complained about the paper which first exposed MPs’ money fiddles. Eyes sparkled. They were getting their own back. Malvolio’s day of vengeance had arrived." – Quentin Letts, Daily Mail

> Yesterday:

As more details emerge about those overnight talks

"What Downing Street did not know was that four senior officials from Hacked Off, the campaign group fronting demands for a Press law, were there too … There was no one from the newspaper industry, which played no part in drawing up the Royal Charter and only saw it for the first time when it was published at 4.30pm yesterday." – Daily Mail

And the newspapers respond via their comment pages

  • Newspapers"If politicians had devoted half as much of their energies to keeping a dying industry alive, instead of hammering another nail into its coffin, democracy would be in a healthier state today. – Daily Mail editorial
  • "The three party leaders urged the newspaper industry to endorse the new dispensation as quickly as possible. However, after 318 years of a free press, its detail deserves careful consideration." – Daily Telegraph editorial
  • "The idea that this is not, as Mr Cameron claimed, 'statutory underpinning' is impossible to uphold." – Times editorial (£)
  • "Press regulation, as proposed, is nonsense if it doesn’t grasp that anyone can be a journalist, and awful if it does." – Hugo Rifkind, The Times (£)
  • "..much remains to be studied before the Royal Charter can be accepted as the foundation stone of new regulation." – Sun editorial
  • "The new regime is far from perfect, but the onus is now on making it work." – Financial Times editorial (£)
  • "…all the press must put the posturing and face-saving behind it, accept the new system and move on. Most importantly, we must begin to rebuild public trust in journalism." – Independent editorial
  • "Much of Fleet Street has ploughed on as if there were really nothing to balance, only one supreme freedom at stake here: its freedom to carry on as heretofore." – Guardian editorial
  • "The press is free, but the balance is tilted a little in favour of the citizen against bare-knuckle thuggery." – Polly Toynbee, Guardian

Mr Cameron skips the new Pope's inauguration


"David Cameron and the Queen will not attend the inauguration of Pope Francis. … But a Downing Street spokesman said last night that the Prime Minister’s decision to send Cabinet ministers Baroness Warsi and Kenneth Clarke to the inauguration ‘is absolutely nothing to do with the Falklands’." – Daily Mail 

He's busy trying to secure the votes of working families, with a new childcare policy

"David Cameron hopes to increase his party’s appeal to middle-class families by offering childcare vouchers worth up to £1,200 per child per year from 2015. The long-awaited package, to be announced today after months of wrangling between the coalition partners, is worth £750 million a year and will help 2.5 million families." – The Times (£)

As Boris admits that he'd love Mr Cameron's job

BorisIn a television documentary reported in the Daily Mail, Mr Johnson talks about becoming Prime Minister: "Obviously, if the ball came loose from the back of a scrum – which it won’t – it would be a great, great thing to have a crack at. But it’s not going to happen."

"The Prime Minister needs to remember his youthful idealism and radical instincts" - Rachel Sylvester, The Times (£)

Budget 1): George Osborne to tighten the sqeeze on the public sector

"George Osborne will use his Budget on Wednesday to announce a further squeeze on public sector spending and pay to shore up government finances and provide some money for his pet projects. … Officials have indicated Mr Osborne will bank £3.3bn, more than half the windfall, with the remaining £2.2bn used to fund projects such as the Dilnot proposals on social care and other Treasury initiatives." – Financial Times (£)

  • "AstraZeneca said it was axing its entire research and development facility at Alderley Edge — in George Osborne’s base of Tatton, Cheshire." – The Sun
  • "Fewer than one in four of the government's hundreds of national infrastructure projects will be completed during this parliament, research by the Guardian has found." – Guardian

Budget 2): Support for a freeze in beer duty

Beer"In a major boost for our Axe Beer Tax campaign, a poll found 57 per cent said they want the levy frozen in the Budget. … Just 30 per cent said the escalator — which hikes duty by two per cent above inflation every year — should remain." – The Sun

Budget 3): Economists urge Mr Osborne to continue with aid spending

"The lives of thousands of children are under threat unless the UK maintains its aid spending, more than 100 economists said in a letter to George Osborne ahead of the budget. … The call came as a group of 170 aid charities stepped up their If campaign against hunger, which asks rich countries to invest more in agriculture across the developing world." – Guardian

Budget 4): More advice for the Chancellor

  • "We are not going as far or as fast as we need on the tax or public spending fronts." – Terry Leahy, Daily Mail
  • "Our cities must be freed to flourish again" – Philip Johnston, Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday:

Theresa May rejects Dominic Raab's amendment for deporting foreign criminals

TM"The Home Secretary refused to support a simple nine-word amendment which would have stopped the convicts blocking deportation under article 8 of the Human Rights Act. … The measure, which could have passed within weeks as part of the Crime and Courts Bill, was supported by more than 90 Tories and the ex-Labour Home Secretary David Blunkett. … In a letter to MPs, Mrs May said she was ‘wholly supportive of the intention behind the amendment’, but that it would be ‘counterproductive’." – Daily Mail

  • Failure to inform or inspire voters is blamed for police election flop – The Times (£)

> Yesterday on the Deep End: Here’s a real challenge for Theresa May: End slavery in Britain

Mark Hoban: Criticism of Work Experience schemes is misleading and insulting

Mark Hoban"Sadly a loud but misguided minority – often spurred on by the leftwing press – still attack these schemes and, ridiculously, label them 'slave labour'. Not only is this misleading and downright insulting, but they also completely fail to offer any workable alternative." – Marh Hoban, Daily Telegraph

Will British troops be saved from Cyprus's savings grab, or not?

"Ministers were accused of betraying British troops last night after it emerged they will be hit by the EU raid on Cypriot banks after all. … Servicemen will only be compensated for ‘reasonable losses’ if their funds are ‘connected with their service in Cyprus’. … Last night MoD officials said that could mean those who have transferred funds to Cyprus to save for their retirement could lose out." – Daily Mail

  • "Russia could use the crisis in Cyprus to secure a military foothold and energy rights in the Mediterranean, it was claimed last night." – Daily Mail

> Yesterday, by Christopher Howarth on Comment: The Cyprus deal. Unjust. Unfair. State robbery. But the Euro will live to see another day

"Owen Paterson, the Environment Secretary, has reduced the amount spent on maintaining flood defences and clearing rivers from £68 million to £39 million"The Times (£)

A Lib-Lab pact isn't so fanciful now, says Janan Ganesh

JG"If policy is not a fundamental hurdle to a Clegg-Miliband alliance, then that leaves only personal compatibility, which is what is improving almost daily. At times, it is only the fundamental reasonableness of senior coalition figures that keeps this government together. But Mr Miliband (unlike, it is fair to say, some of his Labour colleagues) has that virtue too." – Janan Ganesh, Financial Times (£)

Teachers' unions set to strike

"The two biggest classroom unions announced yesterday that they would call teachers out on one-day strikes, beginning in schools in northwest England on June 27. … This would be followed by more walk-outs in the autumn, region-by-region, culminating in a national day of strike action before Christmas." – The Times (£)

David Nicholson to gagged NHS staff: you CAN speak out

Nhs"All NHS staff gagged by bosses will be personally told they are free to speak out, the head of the NHS promised yesterday in a move that could prompt a fresh wave of damaging revelations." – The Times (£)

  • "NHS boss Sir David Nicholson yesterday insisted travelling first class on trains was the only way he could get work done on the move." – The Sun
  • Around a fifth of hospitals don't meet national standards for care and compassion – Daily Mail

The average dispoable income of middle-income earners has fallen by 3.8 per cent since the Crash struckDaily Mail 

The Syrian conflict escalates again: Assad's air force has bombed LebanonDaily Mail

> Yesterday on ToryDiary: Hague and Cameron are right to consider arming Syria's rebels but the region's wealthy oil states need to deliver more life-saving aid. And quickly

And finally… The council that inquired about residents' sexuality in a survey on wheelie bins

"The questionnaire, sent by Birmingham council to thousands of homes, posed a number of mundane questions relating to recycling reward schemes, the sizes of bins and whether respective properties had adequate space to store them. … But it had a bizarre sting in the tail. One of the questions in the ‘about you’ section asked: ‘Which of the following most accurately describes your sexual orientation?’" – Daily Mail


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